Thousands of Chilean mistakenly put on wrong voter rolls

Santiago's mayor candidate Carolina Toha casts her vote in Santiago, Chile, on Oct 23, 2016.
Santiago's mayor candidate Carolina Toha casts her vote in Santiago, Chile, on Oct 23, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile's electoral service has mistakenly listed hundreds of thousands of voters as living in towns far away from their actual place of residence, casting a minor pall over Sunday's (Oct 23) local elections.

According to the government, about 475,000 voters in the country of 17.6 million people have been placed on the wrong voter roll.

While some voters are listed as living in nearby municipalities and thus may be able to vote with some added inconvenience, many are listed as living far from their actual home.

Among them is Guillermo Ponce, a civil engineer living in the Santiago neighborhood of Nunoa, who found out recently that the electoral service had changed his residence to Chilean Antarctica, a largely unpopulated province well over 2,000 miles (3,219 km) southward.

"I don't know Antarctica, I've never been there, I've never done any administrative dealings there," Ponce said.

"So, all the explanations that (the government) offers, that two addresses could have gotten mixed up during an administrative process or a transaction at the Civil Registry that caused this address to be assigned, none of that is valid in my case."

On Thursday, Chilean Justice Minister Javiera Blanco resigned among calls by lawmakers that she be sacked due to the registering errors.

In Chile's local elections for mayors and councilors, the right is set to make gains against President Michelle Bachelet's center-left governing coalition, potentially providing conservatives with a boost going into next year's presidential and parliamentary elections.